Trans and Disability: Health Insurance, Benefits, and Employment
A little more about me: I’ve been applying for SSDI (social security disability insurance) since February of 2001. I’ve managed for quite some time to manage paying rent and other assorted bills without full time work until now. This is the first month I’m unable to pay my rent.
It’s eating me up, frankly. I’m not sleeping well no matter how much I try, I don’t want to eat, I don’t enjoy cooking (one of my favorite things to do, usually), I’m dissociating more than ever. I’ve had a headache since the first of the month.
I am overwhelmed with emotion. The gravity and graveness of my current situation is crippling me in a way I’m not used to being crippled. I take great pride in my ability to ride through rough points in life and manage my situations so that I can emerge stronger, wiser, and better able to live in the long run. I’m there for my friends, and for random strangers who happen to find my email address, instant message nickname, phone number. I’m usually the one who offers a piece of my strength, faith, and will to others.
Cognitively, I know I’ll make it through this. I’ve made it through “rough times” before. I’ve “lost everything” before, so even if I get evicted I’ll manage and emerge. I’m almost 32 years old, have brushed against death too many times to let a lack of money break my spirit. But emotionally, the fear is still there. That my friends will tell me I’m too needy and walk away, that my family will never believe that I’m sick (let alone disabled by my illnesses), that my landlord will tell me I have to move out.
I’m asking myself right now, “so how do I manage to pull through all this crap?” Right now, I don’t know. Not knowing scares the hell out of me sometimes. Some things I’m fine with: what does God look like, will the world ever exist in peace, how do they get the filling into Twinkies. Not knowing when I’ll have rent money is intolerable. I’ve been here before, and the feeling never changes. It’s a slow dread, that creeps up my spine and leaves my arms numb, my lungs empty, my heart heavy.
I’m trying to remember the things I have in life, things for which to be grateful. I have good health insurance and a good team of workers and professionals who are trying to get a handle on how healthy I can be, and how to get me there. Through this insurance, I have an opportunity to check into an in patient psychiatric program at a local hospital. My therapist has suggested this before, and I’ve resisted. I’m reconsidering now. As I’ve been thinking about this, the biggest pull has been to enjoy an accessible shower and bathroom. I’m sick of pulling muscles trying not to fall down in my shower. I’m sick of what I call toilet-gymnastics, trying to keep my legs from going numb or my back going out from twisting or bending to reach something.
Perhaps the piece of strength I can offer, today, is to myself. Perhaps this strength is the ability to say I need help, that there is more going on inside my head than I tell anyone, and that I need to tell someone. Maybe the best thing I can do for myself right now is to stop being so strong and let myself accept the help I need.
I’ll be thinking about this, whether from home or a hospital bed, or both, and will certainly write about how the next months play out.